Early life and education
We have come across many famous scientists from across the world. Some of them are known for their great discoveries, some of them for the astounding inventions that shook the world and some others for the inventions that changed the way we lead lives.
On similar terms we have a scientist who belonged to the 17th century and the one who shook the world with his astounding scientific facts and concepts.
Sir Isaac Newton (Image Credit: Source)
These every concepts which sound very basic today were actually created by this scientist. What seems very normal today was brought out and told why it happens so, all because of this scientist. Let us have a deeper look into his life.
This scientific genius was born on the 4th of January, 1643. Even before he was born, he lost his father. His mother went on to get married a second time.
This made Newton stay with his maternal grandmother till the age of 12. At the age of 12, Newton’s mother came back to live with him, but at that time, he had 3 more siblings.
His mother had 3 children from her second marriage and they went on to stay together with little Newton. He did his schooling from king’s school but at the young age of twelve, his mother decided to put him into farming.
Farming wasn’t as interesting as Newton thought hence he showed no further interest to make a living by sole faming means.
At school, chemistry fascinated him and with that passion, he was sent back to school and was successfully able to complete his education. Later he went to Cambridge University to pursue higher studies.
The Genius of the 17th Century
Isaac Newton was a great scientist of the 17th century. Physics and mathematics were his favorite subjects and he remained a scholar in them till the end of his life.
He made some really breathtaking inventions which shook the whole scientific world and brought basic understanding of how the world runs, in a simple and understandable manner to the entire universe.
His deep understanding of mathematics and physics gave the world, basic concepts of scientific understanding and what we call as the base principles of scientific working.
Newton gave the world, the laws of motion; he curated and formatted basic laws in physics. He was more than a master in the understanding of concepts and theories in physics.
His tenure at Cambridge proved to be very significant in his lifetime as he got exposed to some of the scientific titans of his times.
Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler who had already created a mark in the scientific world at the early 17th century itself left an impact on Newton as well.
Cambridge University was known to be supportive of Aristotle’s views which were quite disliked by Newton. This along with similar dissuasions with top scientists of his times made him agree and disagree on many grounds and he led a life full of contradictions and counter arguments.
Towards the end of three years at Cambridge, Newton, a genius himself had mastered in subjects far apart from those taught at his university.
He came to involve himself more in advanced scientific learning and thinking and spent all his time in a world quite different from the commoners.
Spectrum of white light
Newton after a lot of efforts and towards the end of his fellowship program received a masters in Arts in 1669. This was just the beginning of a long journey.
Newton continued to put his mind in trying to find out how things around him worked the way they did. He was curious to know the method of their working.
He tried to find out the pathway that led these things to work in a certain way. Like for example, if we saw light emerging out of a pin hole we would certainly assume it is from a source kept behind the pin hole and stop at that.
But the way Newton gave it some shape was different. He went into the finer details of the subject. He was much occupied with optics and motion related physics.
Optics was not an easy subject to deal with. If we know that the rainbow colors are VIBGYOR, the credit must directly go to Sir Newton.
He was the first one to coin the diffraction of white light into its spectrum colors and found out the color subset. This was a landmark invention in the history of science.
Nobody ever thought that white light as such was a composition of so many colors inside it.
Newton’s book ‘Principia’
With this, Newton came up with his own big book on physics. The book was named Principia. ‘Principia’ contained all the basic concepts of physics that Newton had come up with.
The only area that Newton did not talk about or did not deal with, in his book was the topic of ‘energy’. Energy was something that Newton did not touch.
Almost all of the top scientists give credit to Newton for formulating basic concepts in physics except for the major one in ‘energy’.
Around the year 1668, Newton came up with a big invention in the area of optical physics. He used all his formulations and subject understanding to create his own reflecting telescope.
It was one of the biggest inventions of his time. In fact it was the first invention of Newton that stormed the scientific world by surprise.
The Royal Society was so captivated with such an invention that they came forward and asked Newton to show them his invention.
They requested for a working demonstration of the reflecting telescope that he had invented and he achieved laurels all along. This invention attracted brilliant minds and hence found a publication in his name, in his own writing.
Discoveries about motion and gravity
Next comes his discovery about two other important subject specific topics in physics. These are related to motion and gravity.
To understand them, let’s take a vehicle for example. When a vehicle starts moving with an initial force, that force gets converted into its velocity and upon acceleration picks up greater speed.
So, at this moment we can distinguish different terminologies and can understand that every phenomena is actually known by a distinguishing name.
To help set things straight, let’s get to the point. The person behind these concepts is the genius we are dealing with here.
These concepts existed since time immemorial, people knew that when vehicles move, they gain speed by acceleration.
All concepts take shape at appropriate time intervals, but there needed someone to tell us how they are taking place, what actually is happening and what happens during the process.
The person who came up with an explanation and gave dimension to each of these concepts was Sir Newton. He realized and tried to explore simple things and explained it in scientific light.
So how exactly Newton understood gravity is world famous. It is said that an apple fell right on top of Newton’s head. When this happened, Newton did not sit quiet.
He had inquisitiveness to go in depth with that simple fall as well. He started thinking as to why the apple fell straight out of the apple tree branch and why not in an angular or some other type of motion.
So, there came by two important concepts in the world of physics, motion and gravity.
Newton’s laws of motion
In his book Principia, Newton has stated three very basic laws of motion. These laws are universal laws and can be stated as:
1) A stationary body will stay stationary unless an external force is applied to it.
2) Force is equal to mass times acceleration, and a change in motion (i.e., change in speed) is proportional to the force applied.
3) For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Newton’s formulation of universal gravitation
Just after his discovery about laws of motion, he went a step ahead to study them in depth. By studying them in combination and researching on them further, Newton was able to arrive at the Universal law of gravitation.
The whole world shook its head in agreement to this new discovery. Nobody until then had ever thought of such a thing before.
We had all seen apples fall from trees; we knew that what goes up has to come down. But to attach a scientific attribute to it and think in terms of the phenomena taking place, it needed a person like Newton to bring it out to the whole world.
Using concepts of gravity and motion, Newton was able to decipher the secret behind earth’s rotation, how it revolves around the sun, motion of the planets, elliptical motion etc.
The last days
Around 1693, Newton began deteriorating in his health. He had problems related to his nervous system. At later stages of his life, it is said that, Newton started drifting away from his rich scientific world.
The scientific brain that took the world by storm and made the whole universe take notice of a superman like him began showing interest in other aspects of life.
Scripture, intellectual factors and the study of alchemy kept him busy through his last years. In the year 1727, at the ripe old age of 84, Newton passed away after he could not recover from a severe abdominal ailment.